Ma'an News Agency
July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The EU and the Palestinian Authority officially launched the Private Sector Reconstruction in Gaza program Sunday.

The launch coincides with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s visit to the besieged Strip, where she saw two of the 203 companies to benefit from the scheme.

In total the EU will contribute €22 million to the program initiated by the PA in the aftermath of Israel’s war on Gaza which began December 2008, a statement said.

Together, the PA and EU will target businesses which were destroyed by the attack, providing machinery, building materials and office furniture.

Under Israel’s four-year blockade of the coastal enclave, many of these items are not allowed to enter.

Reiterating her call for an end to the siege, Ashton explained, “It is only through the free import and export of commercial goods that we can talk about true economic activity and a sustainable economy.”

Israel recently changed its siege policy, in response to international condemnation of its raid on a ship attempting to break the blockade and bring aid to Gaza. Israeli soldiers killed nine passengers during the attack.

However, Israel still bans businesses from exporting their produce, and the import of Israeli goods for sale in the Strip will not regenerate the coastal enclave’s economy.

Gaza residents have said they need jobs, not biscuits.

EU representative Christian Berger said the new program “aims to stimulate economic activity in the Gaza Strip by enabling enterprises to resume economic activities and to enable the people of Gaza to emerge from aid dependency.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017